Winning Lulu

DSC00960Author’s note: Usually Friday is my simple living blog. Well, it seems I tore a muscle between some ribs in my back, so at the moment I’m doing more whining than decluttering, and my schedule is mostly simple because I’m being lazy until it heals. So, for the next Friday or two I’m throwing in some different posts. Today, meet another one of my pets, who teaches me more about life than I care to admit.

About four years ago, I had to put a kitten to sleep.  She was nine months old, named Salamander, and to this day my heart hurts when I think about losing her.  She was a rescued feral, and I really loved her, but she had an illness that couldn’t be cured.

Salamander had a brother named Cricket, and for six solid weeks after she died, he looked for her and called for her.  My broken heart proceeded to break into still smaller parts, so I went to PetsMart during an adoption weekend and found a five-month old cat to be Cricket’s new sister.  Her name was Lulu.

Lulu was a very pretty cat, bright eyed and full of energy.  When I got her home and opened the paperwork that had come with her, I realized she’d had four names in her short life.  She’d been passed to different families and had even been returned after an adoption.  The result, unknown to us, was that Lulu didn’t really bond with people.

Eventually we renamed her Sprite.  In a few days she and Cricket bonded, and they raced around the house like cats will do.  When Cricket wandered through the house calling for a playmate, she came to play.  Cricket was happy again.

It didn’t take long to realize Sprite barely noticed the people in the house.  We had her over a year before she would make eye contact.  She didn’t like to be petted, and she certainly didn’t like to be held.  Because she’s an incredibly soft, long-haired cat with a small body, it was hard to respect her boundaries, because she just screams to be petted and held.  But, we tried to respect that and loved on her any way she’d let us.

Slowly, Sprite is coming to bond with the people in the house.  Now she looks us right in the eyes.  When she’s hungry, she’ll climb on the table and chirp at us, pawing at us for attention.  She doesn’t yet like to be held, but she’ll tolerate being petted.  Recently, in a shocking move, she sat down on my youngest son’s lap, and I had to laugh at the gentle way he treated her, like a child with a butterfly on his finger he was trying not to frighten away.

Whatever fears came with Sprite are being released.  We didn’t return her, and we didn’t push her.  We try to treat her well, and we didn’t take it personally when she wasn’t the cat we wanted her to be right from the start.  She’ll always be a little off, but that’s okay.  She’s Sprite.  She’s our cat.

I’ve met a few human Sprites in my life.  (In many situations, I’m the human Sprite in the room!!)  There are people with whom I don’t immediately bond.  People who don’t live up to whatever expectations I have for them. Sometimes people who aren’t nice to me. And it’s easier to avoid them than wait for them and care for them. Regardless, I don’t always treat humans as well as my family treated a cat.  And that’s kind of shameful.  If I can wait a year to have a cat look me in the eyes, why do I give up on humans when less time passes?  Maybe if I can accept more people as they are, those who are broken, even if I don’t know anything about what broke them, will feel safer and be able to push through their fears.

I write books, and I once had a character ask what would church be like it if was safe.  What if everyone who belonged in a congregation knew for sure that all trespasses would be forgiven, all mistakes forgotten, that there was nothing but safety within the walls of the church?  It would rock the world.  Just like it rocked the life of one little, lost cat.

Surely I can learn something from Sprite and make the world a safer place for the people God puts in my path. Especially since so often I’m the Sprite, I should understand that sometimes I need to be patient, look deeper, and embrace those God sends to walk with me on this journey.

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